For adult children as well as friends, the breakup of a marriage late in life often comes as a tremendous jolt because they didn't see escalating conflict or flashes of anger.
Those outbursts simply weren't there in this woman's case. "We didn't have an outwardly fighting marriage," she says. "But it was quiet and empty."
Quiet and empty are the symptoms of marital burnout. In an era of longevity, burnout has become a major threat to couples. It's not so much the presence of conflict that kills a long-term relationship, but rather the absence of affection and involvement. - "Even in a Burned-Out Marriage, The Spark Can Be Rekindled", Abigail Trafford, Washington Post, January 29, 2008.
Frankly, I am not surprised; are you? I mean, we all know (don't we?) that conflict doesn't kill a long term relationship. After all, there is only a marginal difference between marital relations and martial relations. It is also well known that marriage is a 50-50 type of deal, involving give and take. In my experience, that means the husband gives 50%; the wife takes the other 50%. Your mileage may vary.
That is why the wife is called the "Better Half". The husband is only the "Bitter Half".
But - don't tell my wife I was complaining about her. I am not worried about having to sleep in the dog house; we don't have a dog. What I am worried about is having to sleep in the back yard.
But seriously - I can't complain about my wife. When we got married, she told me "No matter how low you are at the office, you will be Number Two at home." That lasted until our daughter was born. I was promptly relegated to Number Three. That's why we don't have a dog, a cat or even a parakeet; I want to remain in the Top Three.
Anyway, we all know that it is not conflict that kills a long term relationship; it is the absence of involvement that does the Kevorkian thing to the relationship. Conflict is good because it keeps the couple involved with each other. When the kids grow up and leave home, the couple lose their common, outward, focus and start taking a hard look at each other; not liking what they see there, or perhaps not seeing anything they like there, they start disengaging from each other and drift apart. Hmmm...may be they should have a Disengagement Party to announce to all their friends "We're starting to break up. Now is the time to start taking sides."
Retirement just aggravates the problem. As long as they were working, the couple had someplace to go to get away from each other; and other people to struggle with, all day, so they could come home to each other in relief. Denied this outlet, it is small wonder that the marriage collapses rapidly.
Not to worry. In this, as in many other areas, the present Administration is looking out for our interests. How, you may ask. You don't? Never mind, I will tell you anyway.
First, they winked at brilliantly advanced financial shenanigans by the Big Boys, that ultimately blew up as the Subprime Crisis and the all the trailing collapses in the market. Home equity has been eroded and stock prices have crashed. Many people have no choice but to give up all dreams of retirement, and continue to slog it out in the workplace for several more years. That, by itself, should save a boatload of marriages.
The same slumping economy makes it harder for young people to land that first job. So a lot of them boomerang back home to live with Mom and Dad, until they can afford to live on their own. So Mom and Dad can continue to stay together, at least to present a united front against a common enemy - er, I mean, a common problem.
The Administration has also wisely refused the slightest move to reducing our oil addiction. Lots of people are stuck with SUVs and other gas guzzlers; they can't afford to buy a new hybrid, nor do they have the money to pay for gasoline without getting deeper in debt. So the people can get mad at the oil companies, the auto companies, the Fed, or just about anybody but each other. Think of what it does for the marriage!
Look, this President told us, way back at the beginning of his first term, that he was going to be a Uniter, not a Divider. And he has been exactly that. He has united humongous amounts the national wealth in the hands of the top 1% the people. They just happen to be the people who got him elected as president. You can't really blame a guy for doing exactly what he said he was going to, can you? Can you?